Discussion Forums - Questions about PaperBackSwap Questions about PaperBackSwap

Topic: Poly mailers ok?

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Poly mailers ok?
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 2:17 AM ET
Member Since: 1/1/2009
Posts: 1,924
Back To Top


  I just got my first book today! I am excited! But the wrapper was in tatters and I am lucky it even got here. It was just the paper and some normal gift tape. I know this is how it is instructed to be done though right? I have been using some Poly mailers I have had just sitting around to mail books. Is this ok to do? I cut out the printed part of the wraper and then packing tape the heck out of it just in case....  Not a very green option but a lost or damaged book is not very green either I am thinking!

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 3:08 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
Back To Top

Welcome Kim!

If memory serves, PBS currently recommends preparing books for shipping by wrapping in plastic wrap, then two sheets of printer paper/label, and to use lots of packing tape. . .PBS specifically notes that normal scotch tape is not adequate to withstand the postal service and weather.  You may wish to PM the sender regarding the condition of the book (may help them understand the packing tape recommendation), and make sure to mention the tape, wrapper and book condition in the comment section of the log-in page so PBS knows. 

Many people here use the poly mailers, and we re-use them also.  The bubble types are probably fine by themselves, just include the book info.  For some of the thinner poly types, I often wrap the book in something lightweight before sealing in poly envelope. I don't even fold over the ends, just a secure wrap around the book for added support during shipping and then packing tape the mailer.  Feel free to fold the envelope for a snugger fit around the book.  If the mailing envelope isn't plastic (water resistant) remember to use a plastic inner wrap, I have received several damp packages and others have received soggy books.

Happy Reading!

Last Edited on: 1/15/09 3:13 AM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 3:23 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2008
Posts: 91
Back To Top


The person who wrapped the book you received today did not follow PBS guidelines regarding wrapping.  Scotch/gift wrapping tape is not acceptable because it's just not strong or tacky enough to withstand the beating that packages take.  Packaging/mailing tape is what the post office and PBS say to use.  Is the book damaged from the bad wrapping?  Did you mark it received?

Take a look around on the forums and you'll see a lot of threads related to wrapping.  Everyone has a different way of wrapping, including using poly mailers, manila envelopes, the PBS wrapper, kraft paper, etc.  Whatever you choose to use, please make sure to wrap it tightly around the book;  the book will get damaged from sliding around in a cavernous envelope, and the floppy ends and corners of the envelope could get caught in the sorting machines at the post office.  That's where a lot of tears happen, and there are more than a few PBSers who have received the ripped envelope but no book.  PBSers also often reuse the envelopes their books arrive in, so don't feel bad that you are using poly mailers if that is what you choose to use.

As for tape and how much to use, that's a hotly debated issue around here.  My only suggestion is to use at least enough to wrap the book tightly and that all seams are well-sealed.  It's up to you to use more than that.

Pre-wrapping with plastic wrap (or a grocery bag, or the sleeve your newspaper comes in) is optional, but I for one prefer it.  If the book is wrapped in plastic then in the outer wrapper, it adds a layer of protection against rain/snow damage.  Some people choose not to do that, and that's okay too.  Sometimes it is a matter of environmental consciousness, and other times it's a step that they don't want to take. I like to put many of the books I receive back into circulation here, and I can't do that if they are liquid-damaged because it's against PBS rules.  So to protect myself,  I have a requestor condition that asks senders to wrap the books in plastic.  If they can't do so, then they are free to cancel my request.

If you haven't already checked it out, the Help Center is an excellent resource for all your PBS questions!

Welcome to PBS! :)

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 12:20 PM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 6,991
Back To Top

Last Edited on: 7/7/10 3:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 12:35 PM ET
Member Since: 10/20/2007
Posts: 5,297
Back To Top

I've always used poly mailers and never had a complaint. 

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 1:14 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,805
Back To Top

While I often use poly mailers there can be problems with them also.   I've received books where the bottom seam has torn loose and also mailers where the machines have torn holes in the poly.    I would advise that you tape around the envelope both directions so the book is snug in any mailer you use.  JMO

niffir - ,
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 1:46 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 495
Back To Top

I have had a package rejected by the USPS for using only scotch tape.  This was years ago on an ebay item, back before I knew that scotch tape was not acceptable for mailing :)

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 3:04 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
Back To Top

The biggest problems are people not using the right tape and not wrapping the book securely.  It doesn't take much to imagine what might/will happen to a book wrapped with the weak materials.  I've had books come in wrapped with the PBS wrapper and plastic pre-wrap (of some sort) and the plastic was the only thing keeping the book intact.  The PBS wrappers are usually okay if there is some plastic pre-wrap and all the edges of the book are wrapped in packing tape.  The brown plastic-y  (sp???) tape isn't much better than the gift wrap tape, really.  I'd much rather receive a mummified in tape book than the other extreme.  Some people have trouble with getting books that have too much tape because of arthritis - but I think they should have an RC just like anyone else with special expectations.

For your question - poly mailers work fine as long as the book is pre-wrapped in plastic first both for padding and for protection against the outer mailer getting damaged.  I always tape the member info paragraph of the PBS mailer onto the plastic that te book is wrapped in just in case the book gets separated from the outer mailer.  If you wrap the mailer carefully, it can be opened in a careful way that will allow it to be re-used.  I re-use everything I get if possible. Always re-inforce the weakest parts of the outer wrapper.  And I do the same as you in using the printed PBS label as something to tape to the outer wrapper.  I also tape over the address so that if it should get wet - the ink won't run as easily.  We can all wrap as well as we can and some books will get trashed by the USPS.  We just have to minimize those chances!


ETA - do put the details of the packaging in the comments section of the PBS survey as suggested by others.  And take the opportunity to tell the sender about the condition of the book and packaging you received.  They'll never know about it unless they get feedback.  They can't fix what they don't know about.

Last Edited on: 1/15/09 3:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/1/2009
Posts: 1,924
Back To Top

 I did mark the book recieved and I did note the packaging issue at that time and also in the PM to the sendings. They thanked me for the heads up. The book thankfully is in good condition and I am very grateful for that! :)

 Thank you all!

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 10:33 AM ET
Member Since: 4/10/2006
Posts: 882
Back To Top

Last Edited on: 2/3/15 9:54 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/16/2009 5:23 PM ET
Member Since: 10/26/2007
Posts: 42
Back To Top

I tape the heck out of the books I send! lol I swear I spend more on packing tape than I do on the actual postage!  Scotch tape is a big no no. If it got wet it falls right off and can be pulled off really easily.

I have received a few books that were ruined in transit so now I over do it just to be safe. I buy the store brand non sealed baggies for PBS. I wrap them in that them use tape to close it.  I do prefer to use mailers but I still over tape them!! just a habit!

Better safe than sorry, right?

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 6:07 PM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2006
Posts: 472
Back To Top

Better safe than sorry, right?

Mostly.  Some people go overboard with the mummification and there is no way to open the package without damaging the book.  There needs to some place to get a corner up or something to get a knife of scissors in without damaging the cover. 

Seriously, I've gotten more books that have been practically required surgery to open than I have badly wrapped books.

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 6:14 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,805
Back To Top

The poly mailers are NOT water resistant once the postal machines poke holes in them, which is what has happened to almost all I've recieved.

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 6:15 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,772
Back To Top

I've been using mostly poly mailers for over a year now and I've never had a complaint about a book arriving in a damaged mailer. I get them dirt cheap on Ebay.